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Ulnar Nerve Transposition

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Ulnar Nerve Transposition

(Ulnar Nerve Decompression)


Ulnar nerve transposition is surgery to move a nerve at the elbow. A new path will be made for the nerve to sit in.

Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done in people with cubital tunnel syndrome. This happens when there is pressure on the ulnar nerve inside the elbow. It can lead to tingling and weakness in the arm. This surgery will ease the pressure on the nerve.

The Hand.

Pressure on the ulnar nerve can cause problems in the pinky and ring fingers of the hand.

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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve injury

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Problems to Look Out For

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, or increased pain at the wound site
  • Increased bleeding or other leakage from the wound
  • Changes in the skin color of the fingers
  • Tingling and numbness in the hand
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Procedure

The care team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Arranging for a ride to and from surgery


The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

A cut will be made near the inside of the elbow. The ulnar nerve will be located. It will be moved from behind the elbow to the front. The nerve will be moved to one of these places:

  • Under the skin and fat but above the muscle
  • Within the muscle
  • Under the muscle

The cut will be closed with stiches. A bandage will be placed over it.

How Long Will It Take?

About an hour

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and swelling are common in the first few weeks. Medicine and self care can help.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

After surgery, the staff may:

  • Give you pain medicine
  • Apply a splint, bandages, and dressing to support the area

During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your wound covered

There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your wound

At Home

It will take about four weeks to fully heal. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You may need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.





  • Cubital tunnel syndrome. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-conditions/cubital-tunnel.
  • Ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome). OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/ulnar-nerve-entrapment-at-the-elbow-cubital-tunnel-syndrome.
  • Ulnar nerve entrapment of elbow. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ulnar-nerve-entrapment-of-elbow.


  • Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.